Marking Plant Branches for Identification

In a previous article, I discussed a simple method by which you can make markings on the branches of a bougainvillea plant. That method is a tip to pre-label marcots or air-layers. In that article, marcots were made on two bougainvillea plants growing in a single pot. The reason why pre-labelling is done is to correctly identify the marcots especially when it's time to harvest them.

In this article, I'll discuss an even simpler method to mark the branches of any medium-sized garden plant. "Marking" in this context is for the purpose of being able to identify a particular branch after some time. I'll be using a garlic vine (Mansoa alliacea) instead of a bougainvillea to demonstrate the technique.

Identification for Evaluating the Garlic Vine

The reason I'm marking the branches of the garlic vines is to help me evaluate the vine's flowering behavior. I've recently discovered that there are waves of flowering in the garlic vine. Since I have several garlic vines growing in a single spot, I'm curious to learn if all the vines are flowering, or just some of them. Also, I would like to find out, if possible, if all the nodes of a vine branch would flower and at how many times.

Since some of the vines and some of the branches already have tiny flower buds, I'd like to keep track of these. The procedure below outlines the steps on how I managed to mark the vines' branches and evaluate them for their future flowering. This also allows me to differentiate them from those branches that have not produced flower buds.

Simple Technique to Make Plant Branch Markers


  • Plastic Drinking Straw

  • Scissors


  1. With a pair of scissors, cut one-inch lengths from an ordinary plastic drinking straw. You may use different colored straws if you want to differentiate your markings on the garden plant's branches.

  2. Insert the bottom blade of a pair of scissors into a one-inch length straw and cut lengthwise or parallel to the straw. A pair of scissors with slim blades facilitate the cutting.

    You now have plastic straw tubes with a lengthwise slit or opening.

  3. Cut the on-inch lengths in half so you will be left with half-inch length tubes.

  4. Keep the plastic tubes in a disposable or used plastic jar for storage. These half-inch plastic tubes are very light and easily blown away.

How to Affix Markers to a Plant Branch

  1. Press one end of a plastic straw tube with your fingers. The plastic tube then opens up as shown below.

  2. Press the tube's opening against the branch so it will clamp on to the branch. Plastic straws that have thicker and stiffer plastic may be harder to press and difficult to affix to the branch.

    For bigger branches, use the bigger-sized plastic straws used for pearl shakes and similar drinks.

  3. The tube stays on the branch after you release it.

  4. The tube does not fall even if the the branch is positioned sideways.

  5. Eventually the flowers and some foliage would cover the plant branch markers. Remove the markers for future reuse when you're done with the evaluation or are ready to prune the plant's branches.